GBPA Chairman Ian Rolle Photo: Lyndah Wells
Hutchison Whampoa is delaying construction of the $4 million alternate bridge in East Grand Bahama despite the project already getting approval from its partners, The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA).
In an interview with The Freeport News yesterday, GBPA president Ian Rolle said that the Port Group Limited has already approved the project and are awaiting a decision from Hutchison who have been deliberating on the matter for some time.
The Grand Bahama Development Company (DEVCO) and GBPA announced plans for the construction of a new bridge across the Grand Lucayan Waterway some time last year.
Officials at the time had stated that the construction of the new bridge will continue with DEVCO and GBPA's vision for Grand Bahama's future development and complete the Grand Bahama Highway, making travel to the eastern end of the island easier.
"We need feedback from Hutchison because the company that is building the bridge is Lucaya Service Company and they own 50 percent of that, but the Port Group had approved this for a while now and are waiting on them to finish their deliberations," Rolle explained.
"Its really for redundancy purposes. We want to ensure that the island is never cut in half so we are waiting on them to make a decision because the Port Group has made a decision and have approved the project."
Rolle maintained that they are in constant discussion with Hutchison to help move the process along.
If Hutchison does gives the green light for the project to continue, the new bridge will consist of four lanes and a side-walk and utility path. It will also begin at the intersection of Grand Bahama Highway and Fortune Bay Drive, spanning the channel opening and continue onto the east side of the highway.
Officials said that when completed, the bridge will be of great benefit to all of the residents of East Lucaya and the eastern end of Grand Bahama. Most importantly it will provide a very necessary alternative route across the Grand Lucayan Waterway.
The new bridge is expected to be of concrete construction, which will allow the safe transport of heavy equipment, machinery and materials to East Lucaya and East Grand Bahama for future developments.
Construction of the bridge is anticipated to provide approximately 45-50 new construction jobs for the duration of the project and will provide a stimulus for the local economy.
The Casuarina Bridge currently connects the East and Western ends of the island and is more than 40 years old. According to reports it was not designed to handle heavy construction traffic and for years residents residing in East Grand Bahama have had only one means in and out of their communities.
Work on the new bridge was expected to commence in April of this year, but without approvals from Hutchison Whampoa it is unclear if or when the project will begin.